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Eyewitnesses in Lebanon

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    The below email is from a Lebanese friend who is explaining the situation out there.. Plz forward to everyone.. It is the least that we can do.. Letter from
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6 6:35 AM
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      The below email is from a Lebanese friend who is explaining the
      situation out there.. Plz forward to everyone.. It is the least that
      we can do..


      Letter from Lebanon
      Forwarded by: Mark glenn <mrkglenn @ yahoo.com>


      'Ha! I think I am becoming a reporter now! First, we are still safe,
      but hardly anyone sleeps. The bombing has been continuous, day and
      night with no reprieve. We are in the mountains and we are awakened by
      the sound of the explosions. And it's not as if you can just fall back
      asleep after hearing a bomb land. You can imagine what it is like if
      you are in Beirut. The situation is extremely serious.

      I want to reiterate that we need your help in disseminating this
      information and hopefully getting it to the press. The news you are
      receiving is skewed. This is a well orchestrated war that Israel is
      carrying out. This is not a reaction to Hizbullah's apprehending two
      of its soldiers. It becomes clearer by the day that there is a master
      plan that Israel is executing. Israel has literally kidnapped the
      entire country. One by one they are destroying every single road that
      leads out of the country. Just this evening around 8:00 p.m. we heard
      Israeli planes flying overhead only to hear a few minutes later on the
      radio that theydestroyed a mountain road that leads to the Bekaa
      valley. This road is further up the mountain from where we live, in a
      primarily Christian village.

      On the news earlier we heard that of the 93 Lebanese killed, only 3
      were soldiers. As of 8:30 p.m. more than 120 Lebanese are dead and
      over 500 wounded.

      Yesterday they bombed a small port in Amchit, a Christian village
      about one hour north of Beirut. Why? The Israelis got wind that a
      French ship carrying medical supplies was arriving. Damaging the port
      they prevented these critical medical supplies from reaching their
      destination.

      Yesterday, my niece was attending a wedding-poor couple-could they
      really delay their wedding after months of planning? The wedding was
      held not too far from Jounieh, a major port about 25 minutes north of
      Beirut, a Christian town and definitely not a Hizbullah stronghold
      (you know Jounieh of course). Everyone was on the terrace celebrating
      when Israel repeatedly attacked the Jounieh port. My niece said that
      everyone ran into the church and prayed. The bride was crying. The
      groom was crying. My niece left the wedding flying down the main
      highway while bombs whistled by. Nice memories for the newlyweds.

      This afternoon, the Israelis decimated a small Christian village,Ain
      Ebel in the south of Lebanon. The mayor was pleading with the UN for a
      cessation of the Israeli bombing so they could evacuate women and
      children, and eventually to get food and medical supplies. Again, Ain
      Ebel is far from being a Hizbullah basis.

      In the southern suburb of Beirut, Israelis knocked out all
      telecommunications-both land and mobile.They just struck the airport
      again, as I have been writing this.
      This must be the sixth or seventh time, I lost count!

      Over 1 million Lebanese, that's nearly one third of the entire
      population has been displaced! Hotels, homes in the mountains are
      packed to the brim trying to accommodate these people made refugees in
      their own country.

      Is anyone really still convinced that Israel is attacking only
      Hizbullah targets? is anyone really still convinced that Israel has a
      right to defend itself-and if so, in this way?

      Even during the 15 years of war, never ever were all roads, ports, and
      airports simultaneously blocked. When I was in Saudi, we would fly to
      Cyprus then take the boat to Jounieh. Now there is no way out. Israel
      has kidnapped and trapped the entire country.

      There are more than 17, 000 French citizens, more than 10, 000
      English, more than 25, 000 Americans and many more other foreign
      nationals trapped because Israel has blown up all major roads,
      bridges, airports and ports. Their actions are barbaric. The British
      Ambassador made a public announcement on television telling his
      compatriots that the roads are not safe enough to travel on for an
      evacuation and urged them to just remain at home. How reassuring! You
      hear news of evacuations, but we are all wondering how anyone can get
      out when roads, bridges and ports have been damaged so severely.

      Now, to end with a little story. A news item that I am sure did not
      make big news in the American press:

      On June 21, 2006, about three weeks ago, The Daily Star, published an
      article about Lebanon expecting complete support from the UN Security
      Council about a complaint the Lebanese government was presenting to
      them. The Lebanese were following proper international protocol. What
      was discovered? The Mossad has a network in Lebanon and has
      assassinated at least 3 Lebanese citizens which the Israelis believed
      to be "terrorists."

      I ask here: What is worse? Hizbullah's kidnapping two Israeli soldiers
      or Israeli agents coming onto Lebanese territory and assassinating its
      citizens? It's like having a North Korean secret service cell in the
      U.S. killing American citizens. Would the U.S.sit back and do nothing?
      It's an outrage. Yet, Israel destroys

      Lebanon with impunity and no one pays attention to the infractions
      that Israel does. And what right does Lebanon have to defend itself?
      If Lebanon, dared to do what Israel is doing to it now, it would be
      labeled "terrorist."

      I once again plead with you to get this news out. Israel is destroying
      Lebanon while the United States puts its head in the sand! These
      atrocities must stop!'

      10:10 p.m. The bombs are exploding. Another sleepless night ahead..

      ===

      Lebanon: Hard Testimony
      War crimes, a moment of humanity, and Harper's shame
      SPENCER OSBERG
      www.shunpiking.com/ol0306/0306-BD-SO-BeirutD2.htm


      HAAN, Germany (Friday, 21 July 2006: 17:20:45) - AS I
      WRITE, the dust from Beirut rubs into the prints of my
      fingers from the keys of my laptop. I'm in Haan now,
      near Duesseldorf, Germany.

      Whatever I've seen happening in Beirut, the situation
      in South Lebanon is so much worse, and seems to have
      garnered little to no attention in international
      media.

      I recorded an interview a German-Lebanese man who I
      met outside the bus in Syria, just over the Northern
      Lebanese border. We were waiting for our passports,
      left at the border post on the Lebanese side after our
      bus convoy fled an Israeli attack on the road a few
      hundred metres behind us. [I will call him Rami, as he
      asked me not to use his name as he is afraid of
      retaliation on his family members who remain in
      Lebanon. He spoke in German and my girlfriend
      translated] He'd come to Lebanon two weeks ago to
      visit his family in the village of El Qlaile, close to
      the city of Tyre in South Lebanon. He said the first
      week was great, getting to see everyone again, his mom
      had just had a heart operation and was recovering, and
      then the bombing started.

      Rami says reports are not getting out about what's
      happen in South Lebanon because its so dangerous that
      no reporters are going there, which I've also heard
      from other reporters. The Beirut correspondent for the
      CBC News told me going to south Lebanon is tantamount
      to suicide.

      I asked Rami if there are any battles between
      Hizbullah fighters and the Israelis in the towns, and
      Rami said no. The Hizbullah fighters are bunkered down
      in positions in the mountains, so the Israelis have
      taken to bombing the towns and villages.

      "Precise targeting": Israelis are bombing homes,
      schools, hospitals

      In the villages in the hills east of the costal town
      of Naquora, Rami says the Israelis have bombed all the
      roads and bridges, meaning nobody can leave and
      supplies cannot get in. People are beginning to starve
      and they're too afraid to leave the basements of their
      homes. Now the Israelis are bombing the houses. He
      says there is nowhere to hide and you unable to run.

      Between 40 and 70 families from the town took refugee
      from the bombing at a school, and then on Monday the
      Israelis bombed the school, killing almost everyone.
      Rami says seven families where sheltering in a large
      house next to the hospital and the Israelis bombed
      them. It took emergency crews two days to remove all
      the bodies because the Israeli jets continued to bomb
      it over and over again, killing some of the emergency
      workers.

      He was helping with the emergency crews trying to
      rescue people from the rubble and get people to
      hospital [the Israelis also bombed a section of the
      hospital on Sunday]. The hospitals in his area and
      around the south are running out of drugs, bandages
      and all supplies, and don't have enough doctors or
      nurses because many of them fled. This means many of
      the wounded that could be saved are dying because they
      can't be treated. These people are not yet on the
      official casualty count. The morgue has so many bodies
      that they had to simply start stacking them on top of
      each other; a lot of the time they were simply
      collecting pieces of people and putting them in bags
      to store at the morgue.

      Rami described how four members of a German-Lebanese
      family were killed in the South when an Israeli bomb
      hit their house. The grandparents were on the first
      floor and were blown apart by the blast wave, while
      the mother and young child were climbing the stairs
      from the basement, and so were cut in half by the same
      blast. The father was on the back deck, and was thrown
      through the air by the explosion,losing an arm but
      surviving, but has gone insane with despair and rage.

      The Israelis hit the house of another friend in the
      Red Cross. The blast wave tore most of the skin off
      the front of his wife, exposing her internal organs.
      She is still alive but is certain to die within the
      next few days. His young daughter was also heavily
      wounded and is now blind. Rami says his friend just
      fell apart and started banging his head on a wall and
      screaming.

      I asked him if there were a lot of people knew who
      were killed, and he said it was really hard to tell,
      because most of the bodies, if still whole, are burned
      black and unidentifiable.

      Rami says people are trying to flee at night with the
      lights off in the cars, driving very fast. This is
      causing a lot of accidents and making the whole
      situation that much more dangerous.

      After a week he decided to try and leave and get his
      family out. He got them to a car and started to try
      and drive up what's left of the costal highway. He saw
      a Lebanese army jeep near them on the highway being
      hit by a missile, showering his car with debris. There
      was nothing left of it. A minivan with fleeing
      refugees behind the jeep was also hit by the
      explosion. He doesn't think anyone survived.

      It took him eight hours to reach Beirut because they
      had to use many backroads [the drive from south
      Lebanon to Beirut normally takes a little over an
      hour].

      His family is now staying at a refugee centre set up
      at a school in Beirut, and Rami, with German
      citizenship, is going back to his home in Hamburg.

      A moment of humanity

      (20 July 2006) In Beirut the fabric of society is
      beginning to unravel. The basics of life, even in
      those areas not under constant bombardment, are
      becoming

      short in supply. Running water ran out for my next
      door neighbour -- Ali Sayyed, another Canadian from
      Ottawa -- the day I left (Wednesday), and my water
      tank on the roof had stopped refilling, leaving some
      10 litres of water left in the bottom. That's not much
      when between your neighbor and yourself you're putting
      up seven refugees from the southern suburbs of Beirut.
      Fresh fruit and vegetables are hard to come by in the
      stores because the major roads leading from the farms
      the city are destroyed, and the Israelis have put out
      a warning stating that they will bomb every truck in
      the country headed south, whether it's full of
      watermelons, garbage, water or fuel, just in the off
      chance it might be carry missiles for Hizbullah. Most
      shops sell out of bread before noon.

      Today, the Israelis also bombed the largest
      glass-bottling factory in the country, so the supply
      of fresh milk and juice will run out in a couple days.
      Given that Israeli naval warships are blockading
      supplies from entering the country, they've blown up
      the airport and the runways and the land routes into
      the country, no new supplies are getting in to people
      who need foud and nourishment. Every other gas station
      in town is also closed as fuel is running out -- the
      blockade would make it bad enough, but to hasten the
      strangulation the Israelis also bombed the major fuel
      storage tankers in west Beirut, at the airport, the
      big electricity plant and in south Lebanon.

      Syria has taken in some 500,000 refugees -- total
      population of Lebanon before the bombing: 3.5 to 4
      million.

      I made the final decision to leave on Tuesday, and
      it's the hardest one I've ever had to make. I feel a
      duty to report to every TV, Radio station and
      newspaper that will listen about this unjustified war
      and hundreds of innocent people are being murdered as
      their country is pounded into dust. The official body
      count this morning is 330 dead Lebanese civilians,
      thousands injured, and five dead Hizbullah fighters.
      The Israeli "Defence" Forces are committing war crimes
      on a massive scale, and it is doubtful that any member
      of the IDF or the Israeli government will ever be
      brought to account for their atrocities.

      I'd done more phone interviews than I can count with
      anyone who can get through, and was sending out as
      much information as I could to anyone I could contact,
      but the barrage of missiles and bombs destroying the
      neighbourhoods just over a kilometer from my house,
      and the pictures of dead and mangled infants and
      families bleeding through the TV screen was making me
      numb and ineffective at doing work. I could not
      properly describe the magnitude of the evil crushing
      the Lebanese.

      I am also only a freelancer, unable to tap the
      resources the major media networks provide for their
      reporters. If later the situation degraded to the
      point where my life was immediately in danger and all
      the foreign national evacuations had finished, I
      feared I would be stranded and basically fucked.

      The list of failures and ineptitudes of the Canadian
      government and its embassy in Beirut to care for the
      well being of Canadians in Lebanon is too expansive
      and profound for me to address in this letter, and
      judging from phone calls to Lebanon this morning, they
      are still utterly unable to put together any sort of
      effective evacuation. As one of the richest countries
      in the world, this is beyond shameful.

      However, my girlfriend, Nicole, a German citizen, was
      leaving Wednesday morning on a German bus convoy
      heading north through to Syria. She had spoken with
      the German embassy a few days earlier about putting me
      on their evacuation list, and it sounded promising,
      but we were still unsure whether simply being
      'boyfriend' would ensure that I would be place under
      the care of the German government.

      So, Tuesday morning we decided to get married. For
      that we needed two thing; someone to marry us and
      rings to exchange. A Lebanese friend of ours called a
      priest he knew but was told it would take a lot of
      paper work which could not be organized in a short
      period of time. We then headed out in our
      neighbourhood of Beirut, Fern El Chebak, then to Hamra
      in west Beirut, and then Ashrafieh in east Beirut,
      looking for a jewelry store to sell us rings and a
      priest to marry us. During war however, people need
      bread and water, so the food stores stay open, but
      people don't tend to be buying much in the way of
      luxury items. All the stores were closed. Despite a
      visit to many a church, we were only able to speak
      with one priest who asked us if we were Roman
      Catholic. We said yes, and then he said that
      unfortunately he was a Maronite Catholic priest and
      could not help us, then he directed us up the street
      to a Roman Catholic church, which, like many others in
      Beirut, happened to be closed and locked up.

      Back at the apartment, everyone pitched in to make it
      happen. The refugees staying with us, Ali's uncle's
      family and their neighbours from downstairs, went out
      and somehow, somewhere found a wedding bouquet. Ali's
      aunt gave Nicole a gold ring that she's held onto for
      the last 20 years, and one of the young guys of the
      downstairs neighbour refugees made a ring for me by
      cutting and bending a solid copper choker Nicole's mom
      had given her years ago.

      Everyone gathered on our balcony, Ali's cousin
      snapping away the happy pics as Ali himself lead the
      ceremony, Nicole and I on either of his sides. We
      exchanged rings and "I dos", Ali pronounced us Husband
      and Wife, I kissed my bride, and, being without
      champagne, we wrapped our wrists around the each
      others' and shot Tequila.

      In the tragedy that is this war with all its
      destruction, this small moment had the beauty of
      putting smiles on the faces of all us and reminding us
      that there is still things to be happy for in this
      world. We are still human beings.

      'The witnesses are gone'; Israeli disinformation and
      the dishonour of Canada

      The next day, Nicole and I lined up with thousands of
      others at Biel, the massive conference centre area
      just north of Downtown Beirut. When we got to the head
      of the line she announced to the German officials that
      she and her Canadian husband wanted to be evacuated.
      They let us in. We waited there for about 12 hours,
      listening to the Israel jets overhead and the
      concussion bombs in the distance, as busload after
      busload of German nationals were carted away in
      convoys. We were eventually put on one that left near
      twilight. The skinny, decrepit highway in north
      Lebanon brought us to the border with Syria around 10
      p.m.

      Just after the Lebanese officer had taken our
      passports into the border post for the exit stamp,
      something exploded behind us. The bus drivers pressed
      the gas pedal to the floor, flew past the Lebanese and
      Syrian border posts, and didn't stop until they were
      several kilometers inside Syria, where we had to wait
      until someone went back to get our passports. We later
      heard reports on the radio that the Israelis had
      bombed the road, a Canadian bus convoy coming up
      behind us had been blocked and had to turn around, and
      the Syrians were closing the border. From there we
      drove to Turkey, and to an airport near the coast at
      Adana, where a German Airforce Luftwaffe Airbus A310
      flew us to Cologne.

      Did I deserve to leave any more than anyone else
      trapped in Lebanon? No. But no German was displaced by
      me, and having been made painfully aware of the
      incompetence of my government and its inability to
      help me in a crisis situation, there was no other
      choice. Now I can only pray that by some miracle
      others left behind will find a way out, or at least
      stay safe.

      Israel has issued another call telling people in South
      Lebanon to flee, but they are not letting them leave
      because they keep bombing vehicles on the roads.
      There's been small Israeli invasions over the border
      with troops and tanks, but they're now calling up
      thousands of reservists and putting up to four
      divisions of troops on the border.

      Also, with the mass exodus of foreigners from Lebanon,
      the depravity of the killing can only intensify, the
      idea being 'the witnesses are gone.'

      I remember on the second or third day I heard of a
      statement concerning the Israeli offensive by my
      honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to the
      effect of "Israeli has the right to defend itself."
      And as I was thinking this we were watching footage on
      TV from the village of Dweir in the area of Nabatieh,
      where an Israeli missile had brought down a house
      where a family of ten where sheltering. They were all
      killed, and emergency people were now digging their
      corpses out of the smashed concrete.

      One of diggers stopped as he passed by the camera and
      held up a body he was carrying by its under arms. She
      wasn't heavy, would have stood hip height if she
      could, maybe eight-years old, maybe 10 or 12, it was
      kind of hard to tell.

      She was covered in grey dust from her shoeless toes to
      the curls on her drooping head, and as the camera
      panned past her lifeless face you could see the blood
      caked beneath her nose, and I thought, what exactly is
      Israeli defending itself from? I guess if she had
      survived, when she grew up she might hate the people
      who'd killed her family, destroyed her home and the
      homes of her neighbours and flattened her country.
      This in turn could place her in the category of
      'potential security threat.' So to avoid such
      'potential threats' that living children may pose
      later on, Israel is killing them now in Lebanon. It
      all makes complete sense.


      Halifax native Spencer Osberg is a journalist with the
      English-language Daily Star of Beirut and a former
      intern with shunpiking magazine

      Comments to : shunpike @ shunpiking.com

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